Apache, WANdisco duel over Subversion

WANdisco had claimed it would overhaul Subversion, but Apache says the proposed changes are already under way

A dispute that has emerged between the Apache Software Foundation and a corporate participant over the Subversion software version control system actually puts the two parties on the same side of the argument.

The two organizations are both in agreement about improvements to the popular open source project, which has millions of users and is deployed for versioning source code, letting developers record who makes code changes and providing an audit trail.  

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Apache published a response on Monday to WANdisco's pre-Christmas declaration that it would shake up software change management by overhauling Subversion, saying, "WANdisco CEO David Richards claims without evidence that bogus changes are being committed to the master tree. He wrote: 'We ... believe it's unhelpful when certain unscrupulous committers decide to commit trivial changes in large files to simply get their stats up. That behavior has no place in any open source project; it's a bad form [sic] and wastes everyone's valuable time.' "

Apache wrote: "We are unaware of any such behavior among the Subversion maintainers. Our repository logs are always open for public inspection, yet when asked to show evidence, Richards refused." Apache also rejects the notion that WANdisco was involved in the creation of Subversion, stating CollabNet created it in 2000.

Reached on Monday, Richards expressed regret for some of his comments and said Subversion was in very safe hands with Apache. He stressed he was ironing out WANdisco's dispute with Apache.

WANdisco, which offers products based on Subversion, announced on December 20 intentions to overhaul Subversion, proposing changes like enhanced Subversion merge performance, Subversion rename tracking to eliminate tree conflicts during merges when file names change, and improved SVN (Subversion) import to better manage branches. Other improvements eyed include repository-dictated configuration, making the Authz architecture more granular, and improved SVN blame, to make it possible to follow a complete merge history and trace code authors.

But Apache stresses the proposed improvements are already under way: "The Subversion development team is already working towards the enhancements that WANdisco inexplicably portrays as bold, controversial steps that must be pushed through in the face of (conveniently unnamed) opposition. WANdisco participates in Subversion development along with many parties, and the Subversion project has always welcomed WANdisco's contributions."

In an interview Monday, Apache's Karl Fogel, a founding developer of Subversion, described as "bizarre" WANdisco's public comments. "Basically, the press release and the blog post make it sound as though WANdisco has some kind of official steering position on the project," which is not true, Fogel said. WANdisco, however, has shown no intent to fork Subversion, and it "would be a disaster for them if they did," Fogel said.  

Richards said he has received dozens of emails and tweets from persons appreciating WANdisco's plans to improve Subversion. He called Subversion a "fantastic" product and expressed fear it would experience the same fate as the CVS (Concurrent Versions System) project. "CVS kind of hit a brick wall," with innovation stopping and Subversion taking its place, said Richards.

Richards acknowledged the emergence of the Git version control system but said it would be difficult for Git to overtake Subversion in the enterprise, since Git would have difficulties, such as meeting Sarbanes-Oxley regulatory requirements, including knowing where intellectual property resides.

The next release of Subversion, dubbed version 1.7, is due in the first or second quarter of this year. Fogel said he was not sure which features sought by WANdisco would be in the release.

This article, "Apache, WANdisco duel over Subversion," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter.

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